Friday, May 9, 2014

Hanamaki Castle -Troublesome neighbor-

Hanamaki Castle

-Troublesome neighbor-



Name: Hanamaki castle (Hanamaki-jo)
Place: Jonai Hanamaki city, Iwate
Location: 39.39157806366435, 141.12009056168608
Type: Hill castle
Built: Originally 15th century, expanded in 16th and 17th century
Remaining remnants: Gate, clay walls and moats

Brief History

Hanamaki castle (花巻城) is located on the height near the meeting point of Kitakami river and Toyosawa river. Hanamaki area is the middle of Kitakami basin spread from Morioka city to Oushu city, and an important place of communication along Ohshu Kaido way.

In the medieval era, Hanamaki area had been governed by Hienuki clan. Hienuki clan was appointed as a governor of this area by Kamakura shogunate after the extinction of Oushu Fujiwara Clan in 1189, and reigned this area about 400 years. Hienuki clan built a small castle at site of Hanamaki castle and called Toyagasaki castle.

Seizure and expansion under Nanbu clan

In 1590, Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), ruler of central area, sieged Odawara castle (Kanagawa prefecture) of Hojyo clan by large army and made them surrender. Utilizing this Hideyoshi appealed lords of Tohoku region to subordinate to Toyotomi government, and large lords of Tohoku region such as Date clan of Sendai area, Tsugaru clan of Tsugaru area or Nanbu clan of Morioka area visited Hideyoshi’s headquarters and pledged loyalty. 

These lords were admitted to keep their territory, but several small lords who did not visit Odawara because of false estimate of situation or internal conflict, including Hienuki clan, were confiscated their territory and lost their position as lords. Opposing to this measure, in 1590, Hienuki clan made revolt cooperating with other lords in same position such as Osaki clan or Waga clan and once recaptured their former territory. But next year Hideyoshi sent large army to this area and solely suppressed this revolt to protect his authority.

After the rebellion, Hanamaki area was given to Nanbu clan, which worked for suppression. Now Nanbu clan had north part and middle part of current Iwate prefecture, but south part of Iwate prefecture was given to Masamune Date (1567-1636), a warlord of Sendai castle. 

Even though subordinated to Toyotomi government, Masamune once grew his territory significantly and seized the hegemony of southern part of Tohoku region, and was still seeking for the opportunity of expansion. Facing such cunning lord, Nanbu clan appointed Kita clan, one of the important retainer at Hanamaki, and significantly expanded Toyagasaki castle as a first defense line against Date clan. At this time Toyagasaki castle was renamed to Hanamaki Castle.

Attack to the castle by rebellion army

After the death of Hideyoshi, there arose a conflict between Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), the largest lord and Toyotomi supporting group lead by Mitsunari Ishida (1560-1600), the chief administrative staff of Hideyoshi. Masamune supported Ieyasu under the condition to increase his territory to 1,000,000 Koku (unit measured by rice cultivation), and Nanbu clan also belonged to Tokugawa side.

Even though Date clan and Nanbu clan were the same side, Masamune secretly supported former relative of Waga clan to make rebellion to Nanbu clan in Hanamaki area. The intention of Masamune might be to impress inability of Nanbu clan, and by contributing suppression of revolt he hoped to gain this area.

In September 1600, when troops of Nanbu clan was absent due to expedition to Dewa province (Akita prefecture) under the order of Ieyasu, rebellion army lead by Takachika Waga (1576-1601) with thousands of soldiers assaulted Hanamaki castle at night. 

The commander of castle firmly protected the castle with small troops, and rejected this attack in cooperation with reinforcement from neighbor castle. Rebellion army escaped to Iwasaki castle and besieged until next year, but was finally destroyed by Nanbu army. It was said that Takachika escaped to Date territory, but was assassinated by Masamune to conceal his plot. Nevertheless, Ieyasu identified Masamune’s involvement, and did not admit increase of territory formerly promised.

Afterward of castle

After the rebellion, Naubu clan further expanded this castle preparing for troublesome neighbor, but this castle had not been involved in battle any more. Throughout Edo era, as an exception of Ikkoku Ichijyo-rei (one domain-one castle rule), Hanamaki castle continued as a center of southern area of Nanbu domain. Subsequent to Meiji revolution all buildings except for one gate was lost and surrounding areas are broken. But shapes and stone walls of central area still remain, and an imitation of main gate was built as a symbol of town.

Related Castles

Morioka Castle -Crisis and recovery of Nanbu clan-

Pictures (click to enlarge)

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